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History Of Magnetism

The history of magnetism dates back to earlier than 600 B.C., but it is only in the twentieth century that scientists have begun to understand it, and develop technologies based on this understanding. Magnetism was most probably first observed in a form of the mineral magnetite called lodestone, which consists of iron oxide-a chemical compound of iron and oxygen. The ancient Greeks were the first known to have used this mineral, which they called a magnet because of its ability to attract other pieces of the same material and iron.

The Englishman William Gilbert (1540-1603) was the first to investigate the phenomenon of magnetism systematically using scientific methods. He also discovered that Earth is itself a weak magnet. Early theoretical investigations into the nature of Earth's magnetism were carried out by the German Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855). Quantitative studies of magnetic phenomena initiated in the eighteenth century by Frenchman Charles Coulomb (1736-1806), who established the inverse square law of force, which states that the attractive force between two magnetized objects is directly proportional to the product of their individual fields and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. Danish physicist Hans Christian Oersted(1777-1851) first suggested a link between electricity and magnetism. Experiments involving the effects of magnetic and electric fields on one another were then conducted by Frenchman Andre Marie Ampere (1775-1836) and Englishman Michael Faraday (1791-1869), but it was the Scotsman, James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), who provided the theoretical foundation to the physics of electromagnetism in the nineteenth century by showing that electricity and magnetism represent different aspects of the same fundamental force field. Then, in the late 1960s American Steven Weinberg (1933-) and Pakistani Abdus Salam (1926-96), performed yet another act of theoretical synthesis of the fundamental forces by showing that electromagnetism is one part of the electroweak force. The modern understanding of magnetic phenomena in condensed matter originates from the work of two Frenchmen: Pierre Curie (1859-1906), the husband and scientific collaborator of Madame Marie Curie (1867-1934), and Pierre Weiss (1865-1940). Curie examined the effect of temperature on magnetic materials and observed that magnetism disappeared suddenly above a certain critical temperature in materials like iron. Weiss proposed a theory of magnetism based on an internal molecular field proportional to the average magnetization that spontaneously align the electronic micromagnets in magnetic matter. The present day understanding of magnetism based on the theory of the motion and interactions of electrons in atoms (called quantum electrodynamics) stems from the work and theoretical models of two Germans, Ernest Ising and Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976). Werner Heisenberg was also one of the founding fathers of modern quantum mechanics.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Macrofauna to MathematicsMagnetism - History Of Magnetism, Origin Of Magnetism, Types Of Magnetism, Measurement Of Magnetic Field, Applications Of Magnetism